From April 4th this year, couples wising to end their marriage or civil partnership will have to undergo a compulsory mediation session before they are able to initiate court proceedings.
During a mediation session, an impartial mediator will assist the couple in discussing and resolving disputes relating to their separation. This will include encouraging them to reach agreement over such issues as how assets should be divided, which parent any children should live with and how often the non-resident parent should have contact with children.
The mediation process itself does not provide legal advice to either party, yet individuals can benefit from seeking legal advice from a solicitor before or during these sessions when divorcing or separating from a partner.
The introduction of compulsory mediation assessment sessions for separating couples is intended to reduce costly court proceedings in cases where parties can reach an agreement on their own accord or with a little encouragement. It is important to note however, that couples will not be obliged to commit to the mediation process beyond this initial meeting and will be able to choose to continue their separation as they see fit.
For those unfortunate cases of divorce or separation involving domestic violence and/or child protection matters, an initial mediation session will not be compulsory and couples will still be able to initiate court proceedings from the outset. In these exceptional cases, a specialist divorce solicitor will be able to make applications to court – for injunctions and/or special measures for contact with children – on behalf of those involved.
Click here for more information on divorce and separation.
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